The (Mid) Summer Movie Preview

That's right, folks, it's the summer movie preview! You've been waiting and waiting, and the day has arrived.

And not a moment too soon. Already this summer, Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, the third Ocean's movies, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 have come out and exploded onto the scene with a huge bang. Naturally, in two or three weeks they'll be forgotten, since another huge Part III movie will be around the corner. Because there are a lot of Part III movies this summer. You see, every movie franchise is "completing the trilogy" this summer; which is such a load of crap that I simply have to address it right now.

I don't really know why we feel the need to have everything be a trilogy these days. I know that there's such a balanced feel to having three movies in a sequence that has become a pattern for a successful movie to plan to launch a second movie that only sets up the third. I know that there are usually diminishing returns on each successive sequel unless we view these movies as part of a larger fabric: Revenge of the Sith makes more than Attack of the Clones, or Return of the King makes more money than The Two Towers, since it's the last of the movies and we finally get to see what happens to these characters. Movie studios refer to it as "the completion of the journey," which is code for "come see it even if you don't care - this is the last one, and it's your last chance." But it's just a marketing ploy, albeit an extremely clever one.

Spiderman isn't a trilogy, there's no finishing arc to this story. Not to give anything away, but at the end of Spiderman 3, Spidey does not die, nor does he disappear forever into the sunset, or hand his spidey-suit over to someone else. There's always room for another movie. Even in Alien3, when David Fincher killed off Sigourney Weaver at the end, they just brought her back for Alien: Resurrection anyway ("c'mon guys, it's a one-line fix: 'Quick! Run the DNA through the Clone-o-matic!'"). Sure, we were all raised on trilogies: Star Wars, Back To The Future, The Godfather, etc. But doing three movies is still an arbitrary number.

Of course, that's a tough argument this summer. But even with the Part III's getting all the hype this summer, there are more sequels than just that. The following movies - and essentially, the only movies anyone is talking about - are all sequels:

Part II's:
28 Weeks Later
Fay Grim

Day Watch

Hostel: Part II

Fantastic 4: Rise of The Silver Surfer

Evan Almighty
Daddy Day Camp

Part III's:
Spiderman 3
Shrek the Third

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Ocean's 13

The Bourne Ultimatum
Rush Hour 3
Resident Evil: Extinction

Part IV's:
Live Free Or Die Hard

Part V's:
Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix

I think, and I'm not sure, but I think that's everything. I'm tired of sequels already. Therefore, this movie guide will be completely free of predictions on what sequels are going to be good and which ones are going to suck. You saw the originals, and you can judge for yourself. I'm going to try to highlight other, lesser-known movies, and tell you what to see out of the crowded pack of films that comes out this summer. That's depending on whether you can find a theater playing them. When I went to see Pirates in a theater with 24 screens, Shrek or Pirates was playing on 22 of them. Doesn't leave a lot of room for low-budget comedies.

Still, before I highlight what I like, let's lead in with everyone's favorite - a short dissertation on movies that suck. Links to the trailers in order to determine the degree of suckiness will be available whenever possible.

Movies That Are, In All Likelihood, Going To Suck Like A Giant Maelstrom:

1. Bee Movie. The trailers for it feature Jerry Seinfeld in a giant bee costume, trying to create a live-action bee movie with help from Chris Rock and Steven Spielberg. They're cute spots, but you get the definite sense while watching it that, like Comedian, the trailer will be the best part. Far and away the best part.

I mean, can you really see Seinfeld anchoring a kid's animated movie? It reeks of "stuck-between-two-worlds." Is it for the kids, or nostalgic '90s sitcom fans? The studios are clearly hoping it's for both. I'm betting it's for neither.

2. Rise: Blood Hunter. This title would make sense if there was another Rise movie, and this was the sequel, but that's not the case. This is the first movie, and likely the only one - a poor man's Blade knockoff, with Lucy Liu as the central undead/vampire/spiritual warrior/whatever. Lucy, you're a fantastically talented actress and there's not a chance in hell I'm going to see this movie, because your presence in it is as close as we come to a Hollywood guarantee that this movie will be terrible. It is time to fire your agent. In fact, that time came and went about the time you signed on to Ballstic: Ecks Vs. Sever, another movie that was not a sequel but looked like one anyway, and became overwhelmingly obvious through Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Code Name: The Cleaner, though I did enjoy Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Is it possible you have some sort of colon fetish? Not a single one of those movies sounds good just from the title. Neither does your next project, Kung Fu Panda. In fact, that movie could not sound any worse.

I'm begging you, Lucy: you are a huge movie star (see, I can use colons, too. They're not that cool). Stop starring in movies that sound like they're being made with an eye on landing a three a.m. Tuesday night slot on the USA network, after two hours of MacGyver reruns. In three years, you're gonna end up the third lead in "Law & Order: Drug Trafficking Unit" if you aren't careful, and no colon will make you happy then.

3. Speaking of overuse of colons, let's take a look at DOA: Dead or Alive.

I'm not even going to comment on it. I'm just going to copy-and-paste in this little promotional paragraph, and then I'm going to move on; you'll see why in a minute.

Four beautiful women begin as rivals in a secret invitational-only martial arts contest, but find themselves teaming up with one another against a sinister force. Tina Armstrong, played by Jamie Pressly, is a superstar in the world of women's wrestling. Christie, played by best-selling pop recording artist and actor Holly Valance, is a beautiful cat-thief and assassin-for-hire. Princess Kasumi, played by international fashion model and actor Devon Aoki, is an Asian warrior-aristocrat, schooled by martial arts masters. Helena Douglas, played by Sarah Carter, is an extreme sports athlete whose tragic past binds her to the remote palace in Southeast Asia where the Dead or Alive tournament takes place.

See, I can't even say anything. If I tried to bear down and write something about it, I'd just start thinking about Princess Kasumi, the warrior-aristocrat, and then it'd just ha ha ha hahahahaIcan'tstophahahahahaha...

4. Eagle Vs. Shark. An uncreative romantic comedy that out-and-out steals its laughs from Napoleon Dynamite? Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! What ripping fun!

5. Fat Girls. Ash Christian wrote, directed, and stars in this poorly lit, strangely acted coming-of-age and coming-out comedy about a high school boy channeling his inner fat girl. No, really. Look at the trailer. It also steals its laughs from Napoleon Dynamite, so that's a big plus, too.

6. Bratz: 4 Real. The weirdly sexual preteen cartoon craze gets its own live-action movie about high school cliques, fitting in, being yourself, and sticking it to the snotty know-it-all student body president the only way you possibly can - by defeating her in the school talent show. You know it'll be fun because no one has ever charted this particular cinematic territory before. Ever. In case you're still not convinced this movie's for you, you'll be pleased to see that the last graphic in the trailer before the release date says simply "OMG." It's a good thing you put that there, guys, now we know that you're relevant to this MySpace generation. Now paying out 1:1 odds on the possibility of "hidden" sex jokes amidst the teen's dialogue.

7. Daddy Day Camp. The follow-up to the Eddie Murphy atrocity replaces Murphy with Cuba Gooding Jr. as the not-funny main character who gets picked on by kids spouting not-cute dialogue in a not-believable and not-interesting story about how a dad starts a day camp in order to spend more time with his son, who just turned seven and zzzzzzzzzzz...... I'm sorry, did I doze off?

Slapstick, groin hits, puke jokes, explosions, awkwardly written puppy love, and outhouse jokes are sure to follow. In fact, they're all in the trailer, if you can make it through that far without saying "My God, some poor executive greenlit this project and now he's about to have it handed to him when it crashes on opening weekend. I'd feel bad for the man, except if you're that breathtakingly stupid, you shoulda seen it coming. Frankly, I would fire you myself, given the chance." Did you watch the whole trailer? If you did, admit it. That's what ran through your mind.

8. Care Bears: Oopsy Does It! That exclamation point is part of the title, not a statement of my enthusiasm for this movie. In case you thought that. I doubt you thought that.

I swear, I'm not lying about this one, I couldn't make something like this up (though, disappointingly, I couldn't find a trailer). This movie is so ripe for jokes that I thought about leaving it alone entirely, then realized that a team of creative executives sat in a room and agreed that Care Bears: Oopsy Does It! was the best possible name for this movie. And I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to give 'em a couple suggestions that are a touch more appropriate:

Care Bears: We Didn't Sell Enough Lunchboxes The First Go-Round!
Care Bears: In Case You Want To Be Stoned And Nostalgic At The Same Time!
Care Bears: The First Ever Movie To Be Made Just For One Creepy Guy Living In A Basement!
Care Bears: Blood Hunter!
Care Bears: Drug Trafficking Unit!
Care Bears: The Biggest Animated TV Show-Turned-Movie Since Rugrats 2!
Care Bears: Shitting All Over Your Childhood Memories!

Gosh, I could go on all day.

Anyway, that wraps it up for me. Maybe later I'll post a few movies sure to be overlooked this summer that you should check out. For example, New Zealand has exported a film to us called Black Sheep, the tagline of which is "There are over 40 million sheep in New Zealand, AND THEY'RE PISSED OFF!" Which sounds like a guaranteed winner to me.

Until then, I'll be scouring the entertainment news and petitioning for the making of Care Bears: Hard Times In The Slammer! I think I know of some executives who might think it sounds lucrative. I better find an agent soon.